Meet Natalie Martinez a musician, and the shop manager at Fort Lauderdale’s community record store staple Radio Active Records where she’s worked for over 10 years this month! Most people know Natalie as Nat Smallish, her stage and nick name she’s carried with her throughout the years since high school. She mainly plays bass but also dabbles with other instruments including piano, guitar, flute and more. She plays bass and tours in a band called The Haunt from Boca-Raton Florida.
When she’s not working or touring she like most of us enjoys a my lazy day binging movies and tv shows. She also loves dancing and spending time with family and friends, exploring her hometown.
How did you get into your industry / What motivated you?
I’ve been gigging live since I was 14 years old so naturally the road took me down the music path, BUT working at a record shop was the last thing I thought I’d ever end up doing. I was actually working the ticket office at a venue in town called Revolution Live and would just frequent Radio-Active Records as a customer. Eventually I was hired for online sales and I just moved on up through the years to manager and have completely consumed myself in the lifestyle since.
What is a day in the life like?
Every single day is pretty different honestly. At least for me theres no settling. Our current team of three is always thinking outside the box of how to keep our customers happy and the shop progressing. Being around records and working physical retail has taught me everything I know, from building working relationships with label reps to customer relationships.
My shop responsibilities include everything from ordering office supplies to buying used records, CD’s cassettes, restocks, file backs, equipment set up, DJ-ing, event planning for meet & greets, networking, social media, cleaning records, community relationship building, on and off site pop ups, and attending conferences. There are so many intricacies to running a shop that most people don’t realize. Thats why I always remind people that complain and try to bargain those $2.95 records that one of us is alphabetizing those records. We are doing bin shifts, we are opening shipment boxes, we are climbing peoples attics, we are lugging those records back to the shop, we are cleaning those records, we are pricing those records, sleeving them and the list goes on and on. Its labor, great and “enjoyable” but it’s still hard work. So all I usually ask my customers to be mindful of the things that happen behind the scenes so they could take that record home and enjoy.
In your opinion what has been the coolest thing to come through your shop / the thing you had to keep / almost couldn’t put out for sale?
I am actually lucky enough to be able to name several. I’ll keep it simple and narrow down to meet & greets, those are usually my favorite because it’s intimate for everyone involved. Customer, employee and the band/talent coming through. Its special in every sense of the phrase “ya had to be there”!
What advice do you have for someone wanting to get into pursuing what you’re doing?
Everyone pursues things differently so I can’t really say. I guess the only thing I’d advise is to please stop researching the value of records on eBay.
Are you a vinyl collector yourself? What drew you to it?
I am! I have purged my collection of doubles and albums I’ve “grown out of” over the years on and off but I currently have around 2000 records including my DJ-ing 12″ singles. I was drawn to records the minute I ever sampled one.
It’s the full cheese story of falling in love with the physicality of the experience. It’s the effort. You have to take that record out of its sleeve, you have to drop that needle and you have to flip that side. If you’re not up for the task, you probably don’t actually really love it as much as you think you do.
What has been / is the most difficult part of your job?
For me personally its been finding the right balance between touring and delegating my responsibilities while I’m away so things are able to function properly, all while not stressing myself out and being able to be 100% present on the road and on stage. Thankfully I’m covered on that behalf as everyone I work with is extremely knowledgable and trust worthy. We are a team, everyone knows what they have to do and we get it done.
What types of things are happening in your industry / with vinyl that you’re excited or worried about? i.e. innovation, or trends you’re seeing.
That is a loaded question. I can literally write about my concerns as well as my excitement, so I’ll keep it real simple. I’m worried about distribution as a retailer. The truth is, is that we have had to explain so many things to our customers that sound like excuses for coming short on their expectations. It directly reflects on us and its not the customers job to care about why their orders are late, but it’s essentially what dictates their motivation to continue shopping mom & pop shops or head to amazon. On the other side, I’m excited that its educating a lot of us and forcing issues that have been set aside and hit the back burner for years to now be handled.
Tell your favorite artist, band or what you can’t get enough of right now?
I currently fell in love with Grace Potter when I saw her live and I just want the world to know she is prob GEE OH DEE in the flesh.
Radio Active Records: @RadioActiveRecords